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ONCE AGAIN, NIGERIA POISED TO RECLAIM GIANT OF AFRICA ROLE


By: Dr. Onyema G, Nkwocha  
 Published April 24th, 2011

People of the World, the Nigerian people have spoken. SATURDAY, April 16, 2011 will go down in history as the turning point for Nigeria’s reclaim of her role as the Giant of Africa. The long awaited re-awakening took place on Saturday as the Nigerian people woke up, left their homes and hamlets enmass, braced sun and rain, travelled long distances and patiently queued on line for hours un-end, found themselves in voting booths and overwhelmingly re-elected the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. With over 57% of Nigerians voting for Jonathan to lead them into this new era of repositioning herself in Africa’s economy and reclaiming her envious role as the Giant of Africa, it’s obvious that the Nigeria people by so doing, have just given President Jonathan the mandate to continue and improve on his current Administration’s program put in place by the late President Umaru Yara’adua.

By successfully planning and concluding what has widely and generally been acclaimed as the fairest, freest and most democratic election in sharp contrast to the elections of 2003 and 2007 marred by heavy riggings and violence, Nigeria has once again proved to the entire world that we are capable of building a virile democratic society founded under the rules of law and of one man or woman, one vote. By this election, Nigerians have once again, reaffirmed their desire to be one united country where democracy and democratic governance of a simple majority rules. Saturday, April 16, 2011 will go down in history as the day Nigerians resolved to put aside ethnic, religious, political, economic and class differences and reaffirmed to themselves that they can build a democratic nation where economic growth can thrive and be sustained for the greater good of all. By this singular and stellar gain, Nigeria has willingly or unwillingly, advertently or inadvertently once again set herself on the path and road of democratic recovery and reference block for all other African nations in the Diaspora to emulate as a sister nation model. As is known today, before the end of 2011, at least a dozen or so African nations are in the process of political transition through democratically elected candidates. These nations have been watching the developments in Nigeria with eagerness and cautious interest. Now they have a concrete and tangible example to model their quests for free and fair elections toward via the use of the power of one-man, one vote in the polling stations. Nigeria has, by this election, once again, begun the road and path to Africa’s future democratic marching order, if you will, and has once again, laid out the right way to move past age old ethnic differences to accomplish greater deeds for the citizens, the true owners of the nation.

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Nigeria started this road on April 9th when 360 members of House of Representatives and 109 Senators were elected. On April 26, the final segment of the election will be concluded with the election of State Governors. Although the April 9 election saw instances of demonstrations, violence, deaths, and burning of properties as was the case in mostly northern parts of Nigeria after the Presidential election, we are hoping the gubernatorial elections will yet, set a better, more fairer and democratic electioneering to cement the gains of the recent days thereby solidifying the examples being set by Nigeria for all of the African states to follow. While it may appear as if Nigeria has somehow moved beyond her notorious reputation of conducting heavily flawed, rigged and marred elections in the past, notably those of 2003 and 2007, by this singular precedent of April 16th, it appears Nigeria may have finally set the long awaited and desired example for all other African nations to follow suit. If Tuesday’s April 26th gubernatorial elections come out to be more peaceful, this development will have great positive impact on the entire African continent both politically, economically and otherwise.
Alas my fellow Nigerians, the re-election of President Jonathan goes without its fallouts/frills and challenges. As we saw in the violent demonstrations and burning of properties and killing of Nigerian citizens that broke out, north of the Niger right before and after Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Jonathan the winner based on the number of votes he won in the desired number of states required by law to be won in order to become president, we can see that it’s obvious that Nigeria still has a “divided house.” Nigeria is still polarized between the Muslim North and predominant Christian South. We still have religious intolerance, ritual killings, marginalization of certain southern states, and mismanagement of the nation’s economic resources, health problems, and massive unemployment. Poor quality schools and education are huge problems and challenges that President Jonathan has to contend with. Although sectarian violence against supporters of President Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party believed to have been started by Muslim mobs in the North followed by retaliatory attacks by Christians have claimed more than 70 lives since Sunday, April 17, 2011, yet international observers and nations around Africa believe that this election was the freest, fairest and most credible election Nigeria has ever conducted since her independence in October 1960. It appears though that this election may have as well awoken the “sleeping giant” of Africa. To this effect, despite the unfortunate number of deaths of fellow Nigerians as the aftermath of the entire process whose only crime was simply that President Jonathan was re-elected, the credibility accorded to the process and the outcome by the international observers and particularly by majority of the Nigerian people, makes it difficult to negate the results of the election. That majority of the Nigerian people have spoken and chosen the way of democracy as a better political arrangement to fulfill their destiny as a people is an added plus. The result of Nigeria’s presidential election and the orderliness with which the processes were conducted are encouraging and gives positive hope to other Africa the nations.

But alas, beyond the euphoria of haven yet accomplished another milestone on our way to real democratic governance, here is a laundry list of what are at stake. Nigerians are challenged individually and as a nation to strive to consolidate this political gain and sustain it by resolving to eschew intolerance, work together, and live harmonious as a true united nation. The entire world, more than ever before, is watching the Nigerian situation with caution. While President Jonathan now has to contend with and confront the religious divide between the Muslim North and the Christian South, fight corruption, unemployment, re-build the overall stunted economy and underdevelopment, energy crisis, poor health facilities and educational institutions and overall quality of education to mention but these, he cannot do these alone. More than ever before, he now needs all hands on deck to lift this mount Olympus, called Nigeria!

This is my appeal and challenge to all peace loving Nigerians. The Presidential election is over. The Nigerian people have spoken. Let us all, from all political parties rally round our President, give him the after election support that is very critical and important if his election is going to amount to anything. Let us count this election’s positive result as a gain and consolidate our success in the polling booths and resolutely, unswervingly, march toward sustained democracy. Let us use this opportunity to resolve to build a truly united nation, using this gain as a means of consoling those whose loved ones might have lost their lives during the process and to tell them that they did not after all, lose their lives in vain. Let us begin now to build a virile society that stands as a monument that tells those whose properties were burnt down after the election that their losses were not in vain. Let us apply to the remaining national tasks ahead of us the same rational judgment as God gives us that led us to the polls to make the choices we made at the polling booths; and let us strive to finish the noble work of national unification, integration and reconstruction which our past and present generations have thus far honorably begun. By this election, let us begin to dismantle those inhibiting and primordial fetish and superstitious forces and elements that divide us along intolerable religious, ethnic and tribal lines and replace them with the uniting power of national common destiny predicated under the awesome aegis of democracy’s rule of law of one man, one vote. Let us continue on the pathways and roads that led us to the much cherished results of April 16, 2011, and use it as our stepping stone toward attaining the much and long awaited and hoped for unity, peace and eventual development and democracy for the greater good of all. Not only these, let us resolve as a people with one national destiny to heal the many wounds our nation have borne since the events of February 15, 1966; to put to a final resting place and peace, the blood of innocent Nigerians who might have lost their lives one way or another in the process of building a truly united and democratic nation and to resolve that their lost lives were not in vain. This is my challenge to Nigeria; let us continue to be that true “giant of Africa.” This is the ultimate challenge of the historic April 16, 2011 election as it summons us to rally round President Jonathan and to support him as he executes realistic programs that meets the needs of the people and indeed lead Nigeria to reclaim her Giant of Africa role in both the African and world affairs. Dr. Onyema G. Nkwocha, California, USA






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